Hey, did you hear about the drummer who finished high school? Me neither.
Drummers always get a bum rap. Why is that? Ever seen a good band with a shitty drummer? No. Know why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T EXIST.
Drummers rule! We hit stuff, get peoples’ butts shaking, and ultimately determine whether or not the band is going to perform well. You CANNOT have a solid band without a solid drummer, so this column is for the hitters.
At Basilica Sound Scape, I sat down with Pig Destroyer/Misery Index drummer Adam Fucking Jarvis to talk about his history, his awesome set up, and his long career in metal.
G- What’s going on, Adam? Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
AJ- Yeah thank you, man!
G- How was your trip up to Hudson, NY today?
AJ- No traffic, which was a bonus. I drove most of the way.
G- A drummer driving? Oh boy…
AJ- Yeah scary!
G- Well, it’s a grindcore band but someone has to be relatively sane, and the drummer is who they chose. Interesting.
AJ- Yeah bizarre.
G- Well, let’s talk about your history as a player, man. How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?
AJ- I got started around, I guess I was 8 years old. There was always a drum kit set up in the house I grew up in. My father was a musician and what’s cooler than having a bunch of instruments everywhere in your house?
So, I just started beating on the drums and finally one day he said ‘Why don’t I show you a beat. Let’s try to play a beat.’ So, (he showed me) just the simple 2-4 and I just ran with it from there. I’ll be 30 this year, so 22 years.
G- Big 3-0!
AJ- Yeah 22 years. Jeez… Makes me feel old! Damn.
G- Hey I’m 35, man. It’s kinda like ‘When can I go take a nap?’
So, you started when you were 8… How long have you been playing professionally, and what was your first project?? Do you remember the moment that you really felt that drum performance was your calling?
AJ- Yeah. I was with a bunch of buddies of mine back home in Troy, Illinois. Casey Lawson, Jimmy Sanchez, Brandon Smick, and Gabe Smick, and we all started jamming. I met those guys my freshman year of high school, and my friend just introduced me to them and was like ‘This guitar player… You should meet up with him and jam!’
Before that, I was in a couple of bands with my cousin, John, and we never really wrote any originals, so I wouldn’t say that counts. My first band was freshman year of high school, and we actually started writing songs. We didn’t know how to write songs at all, so this guy Gabe pretty much showed us Death Metal 101 (laughs.)
G- I was gonna ask if you first learned a Beatles song.
AJ- (Laughs) So, we just started hammering it out and wrote enough songs to start playing shows. I was the one who was really proactive with booking shows and stuff like that, calling all the clubs. So, I booked us our first couple of shows, and we got to open up for Orange Goblin. We didn’t even have a band name… We were calling ourselves Odion, and then we ended up changing it. We had this thing where, when you played a really brutal riff, it was the ‘Mad Faced Invasion,’ because you have to make a mad face. So, we ended up calling the band Mad Faced Invasion for a little while.
AJ- And we played with, like, a few national acts here and there. And then we got this new singer, and we started playing at this place in St. Louis, and we formed All Will Fall, and that was when I knew what I wanted to do. We had some really strong material and just really fun, all about the riffs stuff. We opened up for Misery Index and Dying Fetus, and the Skinless and Divine Empire tour, and all the bands we watching us.
After we got done, Jason (Misery Index) came up to me and said ‘Dude… You guys are fuckin’ killer!’ He was blown away… Bad ass drummer who hits hard, a cool ass style, and I gave him a copy of the demo and everything.
A few years later, they were looking for a drummer so I auditioned. I found out last minute, and I videotaped myself playing along to 3 Misery Index songs and overnighted the tape because there was a deadline. Then I got a call from Kevin Talley…
AJ- And he was like ‘Yo man, I just watched your video and you’re the dude.’ He said ‘I’m not even gonna watch another video… You’re the guy.’ So, shortly after that, he was gonna leave the band because he was the original drummer for Misery Index and it was a studio project, but when it started getting serious, he left and they got this guy Matt Beyers. He left the band, Talley came back, they did the Dissent EP, and they were touring on it a little bit. He decided he was going to stay with the band then, so I was kinda bummed in a way, but I was like ‘Whatever.’
Then, out of the blue, a few months later I get a phone call from Talley and he’s like ‘Hey man, would you do me a favor? I can’t make this European tour… Would you possibly be interested in filling in for me?’ I’d never even flew on an airplane before.
G- That was your first time?
AJ- I was 20 years old. So, I hopped on a plane to Baltimore, we jammed like 6-7 times, I flew to Germany, and my first show was Wacken Open Air.
AJ- So, not a big deal.
G- Yeah just a little guy.
AJ- Playing in front of 5,00 people in a beer tent. It was fucking amazing! Then, we did like 6-7 club shows, Party Sound Festival, Brutal Assault Festival…
G- So, that was an eye-opener for you, huh?
AJ- Yeah… Just immediately thrown into it. Then our first US tour was with Cephalic Carnage, and we did shows with Napalm Death, and we did shows with Suffocation, Behemoth… I was just like ‘Holy shit!’ For being only 20 years old, I had a fake ID and stuff.
G- (laughing) Living the dream, man! That’s awesome! Better than how I got started playing drums and stuff, but it happens that way sometimes.
So tell, are you working on any releases right now? What do you have going on?
AJ- Pig Destroyer just released a song called “Octagonal Stairway” via Adult Swim. That just came out, I believe last week they debuted it. Just a quick song we threw together, and it rips. It’s definitely a ripper.
Other than that, Misery Index is finishing up the writing process for our next full-length record.
AJ- I’d say about 11 songs, and just doing all the final pre-production stuff. We just put the mock vocals on to get a better idea of what the final product will sound like. It’s cool to hear it that way.
G- When can we expect that one?
AJ- We’re going to start recording… I’m actually doing the drums with Scott (Hull), and we’re hoping to have it recorded and turned in by the end of January, and we’re aiming for a late-Spring/early-Summer release next year.
G- Nice! And some heavy touring on top of that?
AJ- Not really. Misery index used to be… We did 200 shows in one year. We toured like crazy. But of course, everybody is getting older and Mark’s got a family and has a kid. He moved back to Missouri. Jason is actually up in Canada going to school. Mark’s gonna be going back to school. So, touring is gonna be a thing of the past.
We’re still going to do a couple of tours a year, but it’s gonna be like one European tour, one US tour, and then random shows here and there.
So, we’re drummers and total nerds for our stuff, so we have to talk gear for a second, and I’ll link this to the Youtube footage I watched today which was the Meinl Cymbals series. Tell us about your current rig… What kind of drums and cymbals are you using primarily, what configurations, and what companies are backing you up at this time?
AJ- Well, I’m currently, of course, using Meinl Cymbals like you said.
G- Killer set up too, man. They sound great!
AJ- Yeah. I’ve been with them for a few years now. I’m using DDrums. I got a deal with DDrum 5-6 years ago now. They’re great drums! Basically, it’s a 5-piece kit with an extra kick drum, so 2 rack toms, 1 floor, and 2 kicks. Simple set up, you know.
G- And what’s the composition of that?
AJ- I’m using the DDrum Dios line, and it’s a Dominion Ash.
AJ- I used that kit on Book Burner, and I’m using a hand-hammered iron snare drum, a DDrum Artisan Series.
G- Iron? Is that heavy?
AJ- It’s not really heavy, but it’s a tank though. It’s really loud.
And I’m using Axis pedals. I’m actually getting the new long board set up. I’ve had the same Axis pedals since I was like 18, and I’m still using them to this day… Just tanks, as well. They’re built to last. I’ve been curious about the long boards for a while, and I’ve gotten to play a few on the road when people have them, but now I’m getting my own pair and I’m really looking forward to playing on them… Axis Long Boards!
Regal Tip drumsticks. I use the Butt-Naked (no lacquer) 5BX, wood or nylon tip, whatever they have available.
G- The no-lacquer is probably key to not killing anyone. Those blasts…
AJ- Yeah you start sweating, and it’s over, man.
And the last thing is DB drum shoes.
G- (laughing) You don’t wear Chuck Taylor’s, man?
AJ- Yeah no Chuck Taylor’s.
G- Is that just a very thin, flat foot?
AJ- Yeah. They’re very lightweight, almost equivalent to water shoes, and they’re great to have on the road for many reasons. One being, especially if you sweat your ass off every night, your shoes are going to get absolutely horrid.
G- Yes. Not fun in the van.
AJ- You don’t have to wear your everyday shoes when you play and they’re just stinking everybody out. I’ve had to do that on a couple of tours when I lost my shoes, and it’s terrible. So, I love them! If I don’t have them, I freak out. So, I gotta play with them DB’s.
G- You gotta protect your feet if you’re drumming. And that brings up another question… You play Grind and Metal, and they are both very loud art forms. Do you wear hearing protection when you perform? Why or why not? Do you think it is important for your fans to protect their ears?
AJ- It definitely is. It depends on the stage, really. Sometimes I just can’t feel it as much with the ear plugs in, so anyone who’s seen me live… You might notice if you watch Youtube videos of me playing, you’ll see me rip my ear plugs out while I’m playing when I get a free second because I need to hear it louder. I mean, it’s so aggressive and when the plugs are in it can get a bit watered.
But it’s definitely something to do. It’s a good habit to get into for the long run. Espcially when you play as many shows as we do and it’s really loud music.
G- I know it’s not the most glamorous question, but I think it’s important.
So, we’ve all bled, sweat, and cried over our drums at some point… What was the worst injury you’ve sustained while playing drums. What happened?
AJ- Ahhh… I was in Ghent, Belgium. Obviously, when you go to Europe or anywhere eoutside of the states, you have a rental kit. So, I was playing this rental kit, and the Hi Hat rod was way longer than what I was used to, and sawed off at the top. We were about halfway through our set, and I went to do the double China drop where I’m slamming on both the China’s, and I came down right on the top of that Hi Hat rod. It took basically the whole top part of my index finger off.
G- Ahh that sucks, dude!
AJ- Blood EVERYWHERE. My shorts, snare head… I actually still have the snare head… I saved it. I wrote on it ‘Bloody Massacre – Ghent, Belgium’ and I have the date on there and everything.
G- Was that injury a set-ender?
AJ- No. I just tried to wrap it up with something. I don’t remember what, but it was definitely pretty brutal. And it was in a bad spot, so it kept just splitting back open and bleeding almost every night after that.
G- Hmm… Sorry to bring up old memories. No stitches for that?
AJ- No stitches.
G- Superglue, possibly?
AJ- No. I just tried to keep it bandaged up during the day and then did what I had to do. It sounds a lot worse then it was, I guess, but it was definitely brutal. No joke.
G- Everyone bleeds on their drums, man.
AJ- Yeah. If you’ve never bled on your drums, something’s wrong.
G- Exactly! 100%… You need some war wounds!
So to finish up today, you’re an excellent player and you’re playing in some of the biggest bands for the style, and have been doing so for a long time. There are a lot of kids that want to play drums and that are getting interested in getting into bands and going on tour like yourself.
From your experience, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming hitter out here?
AJ- Just be persistent. Keep your name in the loop. It’s going back to what I was saying, how I always had that drive to go out and play shows and get on the bill with a bigger band, or else no one would go to see your band. You’ve gotta serve your time, you know? It’s not something that’s gonna happen overnight…. You’re not gonna just go on tour with Slayer. I’ve never toured with Slayer, so I’d be really pissed if somebody did that!!! (laughs)
But just try to develop your own style. It’s hard to be original these days, but more and more bands want to sound like other bands these days, and they should try to sound original. It’s really disappointing. It used to be bands doing their own thing and trying to scare people. Now, everybody just wants to sound like everybody else.
G- Thank God Pig Destroyer and Misery Index won’t be… Well, if you guys did a Miley Cyrus cover, I think it’d be pretty interesting.
Do your own thing, folks. So, we just spoke with Adam FUCKING Jarvis from misery Index and Pig Destroyer. I want to say thank you very much again for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
AJ- Yeah man. Thank you!
G- Hit ‘em hard tonight, travel safe back home, and we look forward to catching up with you again in the future!
AJ- Cool, man. And one more thing… I’ve got a couple of other projects that I am working with.
G- Hmmm… Like what?
AJ- One is just straight dirty sounding New Orleans sludge. Not so much sludge, just that really rockin’ Southern fell. It’s called Asthma Castle, and we actually played Maryland deathfest this year.
AJ- And another band to be on the lookout for is called Fulgora. Both bands have music up at Facebook. We have links to check out the tunes, and Fulgora is going to be releasing a 7” on Halloween and there’s gonna be some pretty big news to signing to a pretty big label that this really awesome metal dude has going on.
G- Alright! So, you’ve got 4 bands right now and I don’t even have 1. I gotta get to work.
G- Well, I’ll add the links for those. Go have some fun tonight and I can’t wait to see the performance, man!
AJ- Sweet! Cheers, man!